NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores releases 27 turtles
Posted: Oct 18, 2017 05:56 PM EDT
PINE KNOLL SHORES, Carteret County – The N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores released 27 sea turtles in a ceremony held Wednesday morning.
The turtles were being released as part of the sea turtle loan program, which allows several aquariums across the nation to participate in the care of the endangered species. The turtles were released about 50 miles off the coast, according to a press release.
Loggerheads, which make up the majority of sea turtle nests in North Carolina, do not return to inshore waters until they are roughly 15 years old, said Michele Lamping, an Aquarium aquarist. This is why juvenile loggerheads are released offshore in the habitat in which they live.
« The Aquarium aids sea turtles who need a helping hand and this includes hatchlings, » said Lamping.
The Aquarium collaborates with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission to help save numerous distressed hatchlings that, for various reasons, would not survive without assistance.
When sea turtle hatchlings emerge from their sandy nests, not all make it to the ocean. The commission manages sea turtle monitoring and rescue efforts on state beaches through the North Carolina Sea Turtle Project.
« Volunteers monitor nests and bring in hatchling turtles that need assistance, whether they are from an excavation or a stranding, » said Lamping.
This program consists of several volunteer groups that patrol the beaches from April to October for evidence of sea turtle nests and safe guards established nests during hatching season.
The Aquarium provides a safe haven for dozens of tiny turtles, brought in by volunteers across Bogue Banks, whose chances of survival would be slim due to injury, weakness, weather or negative human interference.
Some of the young turtles act as animal ambassadors and help further the conservation message. Their specialized habitats at each aquarium allow for a unique educational experience for visitors. Programs featuring the turtles introduce these endangered or threatened species to school children and other groups.